For Immediate Release
Statement on Nigeria’s Pending Anti Gay Legislation
by Jabulani Chen Pereira, IGLHRC Africa Program Coordinator
Roberta Sklar, Press Secretary, IGLHRC
(United Nations, New York, Dec 9) We urge the President of Nigeria to lead his government in a manner that clearly abides with the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The impact of the decision by the Nigerian Senate to pass this Bill, know as the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, 2011 has placed Gays, Lesbians, Gender Variant and Gender non-conforming citizens in great fear for their safety and well-being. The Bill reaches far beyond the issue of the right to marry. It not only bans same sex marriage, it criminalizes witnessing of such marriages, affection expressed publicly between members of the same sex, and a ban on the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations. As the Bill is now before the Nigerian House of Representatives for a vote and the President for his signature, we call on all United Nations Member States to denounce the Bill. We urge the Government of Nigeria to permanently withdraw this Bill from Nigerian politics.
Nigeria is currently ranked 156 of 187 on the United Nations Development Index (HDI). Within Nigeria there are overwhelming challenges regarding poverty eradication, access to basic health, and the right of all citizens to enjoy education. The question: Why is the Government of Nigeria targeting same sex relationships as its area of focus? This is counter-productive and merely shifts attention from its State priorities in attaining the challenges set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is the states responsibility to ensure that its citizens have access and enjoy all the rights set as out in the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights.
This Bill is in serious breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as Nigeria’s constitution that affords citizens the right to live in human dignity.
The specific restrictions of this bill and the banning of civil society organizations is a major step backwards in building an active, vibrant and tolerant society.